Did you know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month? How aware are you? There has been a lot of confusion lately about mammogram recommendation as the United States Preventive Services Task Force caused a lot of upheaval recommending mammograms start at 50 years old instead of 40, and self breast exams aren’t important. Fortunately, many breast organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend women keep the original guidelines that state women should do self breast exams and start mammograms at 40 years old.
After lung cancer, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death amongst women. It’s important you look out for breast changes, lumps, bumps or masses, swelling/warmth/redness of the skin, change in breast size or shape, nipple changes, and pain that isn’t cyclical.
Think you’re at risk? The biggest risk factors include: being a woman, being older than 55, having the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, having a first degree relative (mom, sister, daughter) with breast cancer, a personal history of breast cancer, starting your period before 12 years old, stopping your periods after 55 years old, estrogen birth control usage, menopausal hormone usage, drinking one alcoholic drink per day, and being overweight or obese.
What can you do to celebrate this month? First, get involved. Donate, volunteer, and/or join the walks for the cause. Second, get the women in your life involved too and encourage them to have healthy breasts, get mammograms, and do self exams. Third, don’t forget about you! Do your own self breast exams and learn the tissue and contours of your breasts so you can immediately find any changes. Schedule your mammogram today if you are 40 and older. Find healthy hormone balance, exercise, limit your alcohol intake, maintain a normal weight, eat your vegetables, and choose organic, hormone-free foods.
Let October be your stepping stone to a full 12 months of good breast health.
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Good reminder. Like many women I was 48 when my yearly mammogram showed breast cancer, and it was invasive. I can't imagine being alive now if I did not have a yearly mammogram. I know the data indicates that only a small percentage of breast cancers in women under age 50 are diagnosed from a mammogram, but I question the data! I have 5 friends who were all under 50 when either the mammogram or a self breast examination determined they had breast cancer, and I do not have a wide circle of friends!October 14, 2010 - 2:41pm